The sun in the weeks before Songkran is the worst up in the Isaan. It scorches the earth; it empties the lakes and reservoirs in thirsty draughts, the streams and the fishponds, the water buffalo wallows and the small muddy frog ponds. The water is close to gone. The Thais keep on smiling though, but it is the smile of the slightly mad. The laughter has an edge of hysteria lurking about the dark corners you can’t see, even peripherally. It’s there, you know it is, but you can never quite glimpse it. When it breaks through for an instant it is incandescent and full of a maniacal intensity. Even the animals seem to be a bit off mentally. It’s the heat. Every creature is heat crazed. Out of the shade the sun broils the uncovered brainpan of all alike. I can almost see the straw farmer hats worn by most ready to burst into flame. It’s 98 degrees Fahrenheit, in the shade. The bugs themselves, those Borg-like creatures of mind-meld propensity, have all gone insane as well. It behooves a man, or a woman, to tread carefully now in this season of the sun. Bad shit can happen, and here, now … it’s the norm.
Surin is known throughout Isaan, and all of Thailand, as having some of the worst drivers ever … anywhere. I can attest to this through my own vast experiences driving, in Boston, and around various parts of the first world, and third world. I thank the gods every time I drive here for having at least having had the intensive training of driving with idiots and assholes for many pivotal years in the Beantown. It was excellent training for driving in Surin. It is, I believe, the only reason I have survived so long here: Defensive Driving Skills. As my father, that wise old improper Bostonian, told me when I was learning to drive all those years ago, “Just drive as though everyone but you is a total idiot and/or a complete asshole and you’ll do fine.” I took that sage advice to heart and have lived to pass it along to my own children. It is good advice, and here in Surin, the land of many ‘licensed to drive’ idiots, and quite a few assholes as well I must say, it pays to be hyper-vigilant. They’re all out to get you … they are (it’s not considered paranoia if it is true). True driving skills and proper driving etiquette are rare indeed here. Driver’s education in Thailand is nothing more than a fiction. I suppose that if we took half of the 15 to 19 year olds in Boston and let them drive 125cc motorcycles in any manner they deemed appropriate to drive them, and threw them into the mixture of idiocy and asshole-ism that is Boston’s traffic, we might come fairly close to what you have here in Surin, but it still wouldn’t match it totally. Even 16 year olds in Boston would balk at some of the stupid shit I see done here every five minutes on the roads of Surin. It is truly mind-boggling. Even teens in Beantown know what is basically suicidal and will get you eventually splattered on the tarmac, most of them at least.
I have tried to instill the teachings of my dear old Dad, God rest his soul, to my Thai lasses. I know my wife and daughter at least know that all the other drivers surrounding us on the sois of Surin are idiots and assholes. I’ve said it enough times God knows, and they do understand what I am growling about, and agree most times. Somchai wants to die. It seemingly is that simple here. Sis has certainly benefited from my tutelage. She does half the driving chores here with me, and I have drilled it into her head.
Sis is a good driver, slow, but rock steady, most times anyway. I know I can trust her enough to let her drive while I sleep a couple hours and I will eventually get to our destination in one piece sometime before the second coming of Christ. She agrees most of the drivers up here are kwai (water buffalo) and therefore dumb/idiotic and not to be trusted behind the wheels of their vehicles with ‘our’ lives. We alone are intelligent beings trying to get from point A to point B without getting killed by these silly bastards or trying to keep from splattering them all over the soi and our vehicle’s grill. Laws should be passed, but here it wouldn’t matter anyway. No one would pay any heed to the law; they already don’t follow a passel of them, so what would be the point really.
This week Sis forgot she needed to be hyper-vigilant, not just wary, of the idiots and assholes. She met the worst of the lot, Somchai’s idiot bastard son, the human kwai (water buffalo-an endearment Thais use for stupid people) without a brain, or a heart.
Near Death Experience
Sis was out and about a few days ago (Monday-today is Friday) doing some errands on my wife’s shiny red Yamaha Mio automatic. We were staying in the village this past week and Sis and I were down Surin to do some errands, pay some bills, and myself to check my e-mails and websites. Daughter is off from school for the next few weeks and she loves to stay upcountry in the village house playing with family and friends. We have a ping-pong table on the front veranda and the kids will play half the day on it. Next I want to buy a Foosball table for them. I have the room out front and they are cheap here really and the kids love to play the game. It keeps the kids busy and exercising and out of the adults hair for hours at a time, and out from in front of the damned TV. Plus the adults will later in the evening play the games themselves and have a laugh. Good clean fun for all. I’d love to one day buy and set up one of those portable basketball nets for the older boys in the neighborhood in the soi (street) in front of the house to give them something else to do besides play badminton and Dak Graw (the game that uses the woven wicker ball-excuse the phonetic spelling). Most of the Thai kids know a bit about basketball it seems.
Sis was on soi Tanasan near the Surin Post Office slowly driving along. She saw a Toyota Vigo 4×4 in front of the Post Office letting off a middle aged Thai woman. She saw the lady get out as she was approaching the truck, which was at the curb. As she came abreast the truck it suddenly just pulled out at speed, hitting her and knocking her and the bike down. The rear right wheel of the truck ran over her left leg, hip, back, shoulder and arm, and, helmet and face. The tire went right over her! She lay there stunned, not really knowing what had just happened to her. The truck stopped, the driver knowing something bad had just happened. He must have looked (finally) in his mirrors and seen Sis and the bike laying in the soi, and, he sped off and left her for dead. Heaven forbid he might be held responsible for maiming or killing someone. Perish the thought he might have to spend some baht making things right. Being the good Buddhist he is, (I can see him making merit, going through his short monk hood, lighting his incense and saying his prayers for possible lottery winnings, bowing three times to a large golden cryptically smiling Buddha and receiving water blessings from a revered monk, and begging/praying for everything to go good for him in this life and the next, and the next, ad infintum,) he saw what he had inadvertently done in his mirrors, through his own ignorant, arrogant, neglect, and drove away as fast as he could, not knowing if Sis was alive or dead, and … not caring. God damn his black, uncaring, evil, stupid, kwai soul. May he come back the lowest of creatures for many lifetimes. May his daughters marry destitute bisexual Frenchmen and be sold into an Algerian French pimp’s Parisian stable of streetwalking whores. I could go on in my curses, but I think you can see the depths of my feelings for this piece of scum.
Onlookers were horrified, people were stunned; Sis lay there unmoving on the tarmac. This could have been one of the many young school children you see driving about the Surin sois on their motocykes now that school is out. It could have been one of the little babies you see riding with adults on the motocykes everywhere. If it were he would have likely killed them. As it is, Sis is a husky lass of sufficient padding, and she was lucky, lucky as all hell she hadn’t been a few inches further along, lucky she had been to two tambons the past two days before making merit, lucky she had her amulet of Luang Paw Bun of Wat Bahn Plat fame around her neck. Maybe her protective three ‘Baby Pii’ were riding with her. Lucky for her I have been stressing for years the necessity of wearing a motocyke helmet at all times when driving a bike anywhere in this land. I get very angry and show it (fuck ‘face’ and Thai politeness) whenever I have seen her drive off helmet-less. Rather than face my wrath all my family now always wear a helmet, even when I am not in country from what I have heard (I have my spies). The helmet saved her life; even she said this right off after I saw her straight after the accident. “If not wear my helmet I be dead now!” she told me right off. The rear tire had actually run over half her head. The rubber and pressure from the tire tore her left check open, and the helmet cracked. Rather the helmet, than her skull. Her bruises show the tire track of the truck across her leg, back, shoulder and head.
Miraculously, she received minor injuries considering what had happened. It could have been much, much worse.
People rushed to her aid as she lay there. Many thought she was dead. They exclaimed in surprise when she moved, groaned, and then stood up cursing the receding driver in the Toyota Vigo 4×4. The man’s wife was still inside the Post Office, but was forgotten about by Sis during the excitement/trauma of the accident. The police were called and some bystanders helped Sis onto the sidewalk and moved my wife’s bike off the soi. Strangely enough, the bike had no damage.
(To be continued)
(The Central Scrutinizer)
Copyright © Written in the year 2007. All rights reserved by the author.
2 thoughts on “A Crazy Week in the Isaan – Part 1”
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Isaan is still the best place to live in Thailand. I am retired and live in Khon Kaen and would have it no other way.
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